Predictors of risky alcohol consumption in schoolchildren and their implications for preventing alcohol-related harm

Mark A Bellis, Karen Hughes, Michela Morleo, Karen Tocque, Sara Hughes, Tony Allen, Dominic Harrison, Eduardo Fe-Rodriguez

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90 Citations (Scopus)
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While alcohol-related health and social problems amongst youths are increasing internationally, both consumption and associated harms are particularly high in British youth. Youth drinking patterns, including bingeing, frequent drinking and drinking in public spaces, are associated with increased risks of acute (e.g. violence) and long-term (e.g. alcohol-dependence) health problems. Here we examine economic, behavioural and demographic factors that predict these risky drinking behaviours among 15-16 year old schoolchildren who consume alcohol. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among schoolchildren in North West England (n = 10,271) using an anonymous questionnaire delivered in school settings. Analysis utilised logistic regression to identify independent predictors of risky drinking behaviour. Of all respondents, 87.9% drank alcohol. Of drinkers, 38.0% usually binged when drinking, 24.4% were frequent drinkers and 49.8% drank in public spaces. Binge, frequent and public drinking were strongly related to expendable income and to individuals buying their own alcohol. Obtaining alcohol from friends, older siblings and adults outside shops were also predictors of risky drinking amongst drinkers. However, being bought alcohol by parents was associated with both lower bingeing and drinking in public places. Membership of youth groups/teams was in general protective despite some association with bingeing. Although previous studies have examined predictors of risky drinking, our analyses of access to alcohol and youth income have highlighted eradicating underage alcohol sales and increased understanding of children's spending as key considerations in reducing risky alcohol use. Parental provision of alcohol to children in a family environment may also be important in establishing child-parent dialogues on alcohol and moderating youth consumption. However, this will require supporting parents to ensure they develop only moderate drinking behaviours in their children and only when appropriate.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Number of pages10
JournalSubstance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2007


  • adolescent
  • adolescent behavior
  • alcohol drinking
  • alcohol-related disorders
  • cross-sectional studies
  • demography
  • England
  • female
  • health surveys
  • humans
  • male
  • predictive value of tests
  • questionnaires
  • risk factors
  • risk-taking
  • schools
  • social environment
  • socioeconomic factors
  • students


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